Blinky Bill has always considered himself an explorer, the kind of Koala that's willing to put everything on the line to take the next adventure. Some might say he got his wild streak from his father who left home to go and find The Sea of White Dragons. Everyone in Blinky's home town of Green Patch say that Blinky's father is no longer alive but Blinky is convinced that his dad IS alive and a recently uncovered clue could just be the thing that leads Blinky to his father.
Setting out on his Outback adventure, Blinky is joined by two friends, a Koala from a zoo called Nutsy and a frilled lizard called Jacko who's happy to exclaim 'I'm Jacko who can track-o' and also likes to think that his frilled neck helps hone is radar skills. As much fun as the trio have together, they're also being chased by some nasty feral cats who want to ruin their adventure.
Blinky Bill The Movie is based on the 1933 childrens books by Dorothy Wall.
Even for a riotous Australian black comedy, this film packs in just a bit too much chaos. It's consistently smart and funny, with lively characters and especially witty dialog, but some of the sideroads never go anywhere. Still, there's so much terrific material in here that it's well worth a look for fans of the genre. And it's great to see Collette return home to reunite with her Muriel's Wedding director P.J. Hogan nearly 20 years after they launched their careers.
The story centres on suburban housewife Shirley (Gibney), who is obsessed with The Sound of Music and wishes her unruly family was more like the Von Trapps. But no, her husband (LaPaglia) is the town's philandering mayor, and their five daughters all think they're mentally ill. Then when Shirley herself ends up in a psych ward, Dad brings in the drifter Shaz (Collette) to watch the girls. She takes no prisoners, whipping them into shape while trying to give them some self-respect. She also shows them that the people society considers "normal" are probably crazier than they are. Meanwhile, eldest daughter Coral (Sullivan) gets a job at a shark exhibit run by a salty fisherman (Schreiber) who has a connection with Shaz.
Writer-director Hogan packs the film with rude references to The Sound of Music, from a pastiche pre-title sequence to Shaz's unconventional Maria-like approach to child-rearing (with heavy overtones of Mary Poppins). The film is colourful and sometimes too hyperactive, with Collette often going way over-the-top as the wildly unhinged Shaz, who also upends the life of their compulsive next-door neighbour (Fox). Much of this is simply too wacky for us to go along with, but other scenes are quietly insightful and very, very funny. Often at the same time.
Continue reading: Mental Review
Shamelessly crowd-pleasing, this warmly engaging film is based on a remarkable true story. And since it's topped off by Chris O'Dowd's most engaging performance yet (which is saying a lot), resistance is futile. Surprisingly for a comedy, there are also some startlingly serious moments along the way, as the film touches on racial issues and war violence without getting too heavy.
It's set in 1968, which was just as turbulent in Australia as in America and Europe. In the rural Outback, music promoter Dave (O'Dowd) is looking for new talent while slowly pickling himself in alcohol. Then he discovers three sisters - Gail, Cynthia and Julie (Mailman, Tapsell and Mauboy) - who can actually sing. They call themselves the Cummeraganja Songbirds, but as Aboriginals they're shunned by bigoted white society. So Dave takes them on, giving them a crash-course in soul and helping them secure a gig singing for the troops in Vietnam. Joined by their lighter-skinned cousin Kay (Sebbens), they head into the war zone rebranded as The Sapphires.
Where this goes is both hilarious and unexpectedly intense, and credit should go to the filmmakers for resisting the usual movie structures. Everything comes and goes as it would on the frontline of battle: romances begin and end without big movie climaxes, people are suddenly separated and there isn't time to get too melodramatic even in life-or-death situations. Meanwhile, the filmmakers also stir in an underlying current exploring the civil rights protests of the period in both the US and Australia. All of this adds up to a breezy, enjoyable journey with serious points along the way. And a lot of fabulous music.
Continue reading: The Sapphires Review
Four indigenous Australian women, sisters Gail, Cynthia and Julie and their cousin Kay, are ambitious country and western musicians in 1968 that set out to become stars in the wake of a political bill that increased the rights of the Aborigine people. Following a singing contest in rural Australia, a whiskey drinking Irish musician Dave Lovelace sees their potential and sets out to turn the girls into soul singing global sensations. Although apprehensive at first, the group (known as The Sapphires) soon begin to warm to Lovelace, especially when he manages to secure them a gig performing for US soldiers in Vietnam. It soon becomes a life-changing journey for them as they learn the true importance of friendship, family and bravery.
Continue: The Sapphires Trailer
"The Monkey's Mask" is an old-fashioned film noir murder mystery, complete with a hard-boiled private eye narrator, a pretty young victim, a host of nebulous suspects and a smoky, enigmatic femme fatale.
With whispered intensity, it oozes 21st Century Raymond Chandler ambiance as the detective probes the apparently gruesome strangulation slaying of a tormented poetry student, makes stunning discoveries about her sordid sex life and falls for the girl's voluptuous professor in spite of knowing full well it's a bad idea.
The film is a brilliantly modern homage to everything that was great about the golden era of gritty gumshoe flicks, with two significant twists: 1) its inventive, gorgeously coarse, full-color cityscape cinematography, and 2) the detective...is a woman.
Continue reading: The Monkey's Mask Review
An extraordinary true tale of perseverance set against the deplorable backdrop of government-sanctioned racism in 1931 Australia, "Rabbit-Proof Fence" is a stirring film about three kidnapped Aboriginal girls who run away from an indoctrination camp and walk 1,500 miles across the Outback to return to their native village.
The story takes place at a time when it was Aussie government policy to remove "half-caste" children (fathered by white men) from their Aborigine families and re-educate them to be adopted by white families, and director Philip Noyce makes no bones about showing the dismay induced by the enforcement of these laws. In one of the film's first scenes, 14-year-old Molly (Everlyn Sampi), her 8-year-old sister Daisy (Tianna Sansbury) and their 10-year-old cousin Gracie (Laura Monaghan) are ripped from their mothers' arms at a remote trading post near a tribal community called Jigalong, leaving the women sobbing and wailing in the dust kicked up by government cars.
Dragged to the a compound on the other side of the continent where dark-skinned children have the Bible beaten into them and their native languages and customs beaten out by missionaries and nuns, the girls suffer at the hands of the policy that "in spite of himself, the native must be helped."
Continue reading: Rabbit-Proof Fence Review
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An extraordinary true tale of perseverance set against the deplorable backdrop of government-sanctioned racism in...